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Georgia and Georgians

CHAPTER XXIII

INDIAN LEGENDS—THE LEGEND OF NACOOCHEE—THE LEGEND OF HIA

WASSEE—THE LEGEND OF THE CHEROKEE ROSE—THE LEGEND OF LOVER'S LEAP-THE LEGEND OF SWEETWATER BRANCH-YAHULATHE USTUTLI-AGAN-UNITSI'S SEARCH FOR THE UKTENA—THE ENCHANTED MOUNTAIN—THE BURNT VILLAGE: A TALE OF THE INDIAN WARS—THE ENCHANTED ISLAND—DE DOTO AND THE INDIAN WIDOW—THE MAN WHO MARRIED THE THUNDERER'S SISTER-A TRAGEDY OF THE SWAMP-QUEEN ELANCYDYNE.

I

THE LEGEND OF NACOOCHEE

Long before the Anglo-Saxon had made his first footprints on these western shores ; long before even the Genoese visionary had dreamed of a new world beyond the columns of Hercules, there dwelt in this lovely valley a young maiden of wonderful and almost celestial beauty. She was the daughter of a chieftain-a princess. In doing homage to her, the people of her tribe almost forgot the Great Spirit who made her and endowed her with such strange beauty. Her name was Nacoochee“The Evening Star." A son of the chieftain of a neighboring and hostile tribe saw the beautiful Nacoochee and loved her. He stole her young heart. She loved him with an intensity of passion such as only the noblest souls know. They met beneath the holy stars and sealed their simple vows with kisses. In the valley, where, from the interlocked branches overhead, hung with festoons, in which the white flowers of the climate and the purple blossoms of the magnificent wild passion flower, mingled with the dark foliage of the muscadine, they found a fitting place. The song of the mocking-bird and the murmur of the Chattahoochee's hurrying waters were marriage hymn and anthem to them. They vowed eternal love. They vowed to live and die with each other. Intelligence of these secret meetings reached the ear of the old chief, Nacoochee's father, and his anger was terrible. But love for Laceola was stronger in the heart of Nacoochee than even reverence for her father's commands. One night the maiden was missed from her tent. The old chieftain commanded his warriors to pursue the fugitive. They found her with Laceola, the son of a hated race. In an instant, an arrow was aimed at his breast. Nacoochee sprang before him and received the barbed shaft in her own heart. Her lover was stupefied. He made no resistance, and his blood mingled with hers. The lovers were buried in the same grave and a lofty mound was raised to mark the spot. Deep grief seized the old chief and all his people, and the valley was ever after called Nacoochee. The mound which marks the trysting-place and the grave of the maiden and her betrothed, surmounted by a solitary pine, are still to be seen, and form some of the most interesting features of the landscape of this lovely

vale. *

II

THE LEGEND OF THE HIAWASSEE

Over a century ago, a bitter warfare raged between the Catawba and Cherokee tribes of Indians. In one of those frequent and bold excursions common among the wild inhabitants of the forest, the son of the principal Cherokee chief surprised and captured a large town belonging to the Catawba tribe.

Among the captives was the daughter of the first chief of the Catawbas, named Hiawassee, or “the beautiful fawn." A young hero of the Cherokees, whose name was Notley, which means “the daring horseman," instantly became captivated with the majestic beauty and graceful manners of the royal captive; and was overwhelmed with delight upon finding his love reciprocated by the object of his heart's adoration. With two attendants, he presented himself before the Catawba warrior, who happened to be absent when his town was taken by the Cherokees. To this stern old chief he gave a brief statement of recent occurrences, and then besought his daughter in marriage. The proud Catawba, lifting high his war-club, knitting his brow, and curling his lips with scorn, declared that as the Catawbas drank the waters of the East, and the Cherokees the waters of the West, when this insolent and daring lad could find where these waters united, then and not till then might the hateful Cherokee mate with the daughter of the great Catawba. Discouraged but not despairing, Notley turned away from the presence of the proud and unfeeling father of the beautiful Hiawassee, and resolved to search for a union of the eastern with the western waters, which was then considered an impossibility. Ascending the pinnacle of the great chain of the Alleghanies, more commonly called the Blue Ridge, which is known to divide the waters of the Atlantic from those of the great West, and traversing its devious and winding courses, he could frequently find springs running each way, and having their source within a few paces of each other; but this was not what he desired.

Day after day were spent in the arduous search, and there appeared no hope that his energy and perseverance would be rewarded. But

* Reproduced from White's “Historical Collections of Georgia." Authorship unknown.

on a certain day, when he was well nigh exhausted with hunger and other privations, he came to a lovely spot on the summit of the ridge, affording a delightful plain. Here he resolved to repose and refresh himself during the sultry portion of the day. Seating himself upon the ground, and thinking of Hiawassee, he saw three young fawns moving toward a small lake, the stream of which was rippling at his feet; and whilst they were sipping the pure drops from the transparent pool, our hero found himself unconsciously creeping toward them. Untaught in the wiles of danger, the little fawns gave no indication whatever of retiring. Notley had now approached so near, that he expected in a moment, by one leap, to seize and capture one, at least, of the spotted prey; when, to his surprise, he saw another stream running out of the beautiful lake down the western side of the mountain.

Springing forward with the bound of a forest deer, and screaming with frantic joy, he exclaimed, "Hiawassee! O Hiawassee! I have found it!'

The romantic spot is within a few miles of Clayton. Having accomplished his object, he set out for the residence of Hiawassee's father, accompanied by only one warrior, and fortunately for the success of the enterprise, he met the beautiful maiden with some confidential attendants half a mile from her father's house. She informed him that her father was indignant at his proposals, that he would not regard his promises.

“I will fly away with you to the mountains," said Hiawassee, “but my father will never consent to our marriage. Notley then pointed her to a mountain in the distance, and said if he found her there, he should drink of the waters that flowed from the beautiful lake. A few moments afterward, Notley met the Catawba chief near the town, and at once informed him of his wonderful discovery, and offered to conduct him to the place. The Catawba chief, half choked with rage, accused Notley of the intention to deceive him, in order to get him near the line of territory, where the army of the Cherokees was waiting to kill him. “But,” said he, “since you have spared my daughter, so will I spare you, and permit you at once to depart; but I have sworn that you shall never marry my daughter, and I cannot be false to my oath.” Notley's face brightened, for he remembered the old warrior's promise. “Then, exclaimed he, "by the Great Spirit, she is mine!" and the next moment he disappeared in the thick forest. That night brought no sleep to the Catawba chief, for Hiawassee did not return. Pursuit was made in vain. He saw his daughter no more.

Notley, bounding through the mountains, soon met his beloved Hiawassee. Solemnizing the marriage according to the customs of the wilderness, they led a retired life in those regions for three years, and upon hearing of the death of his father, Notley settled in the charming valley of the river on the western side of the mountain, and called it Hiawassee, after his beautiful spouse. In process of time, he was unanimously nosen first chief of the Cherokees, and was the instrument of making perpetual peace between his tribe and the Catawbas.*

Author

* Reproduced from White's "Historical Collections of Georgia.” unknown.

III

THE LEGEND OF THE CHEROKEE ROSE

Once upon a time, a proud young chieftain of the Seminoles was taken prisoner by his enemies the Cherokees and doomed to death by torture; but he fell so seriously ill, that it became necessary to wait for his restoration to health before committing him to the flames.

As he was lying, prostrated by disease, in the cabin of a Cherokee warrior, the daughter of the latter, a dark-eyed maiden, became his nurse. She rivalled in grace the bounding fawn, and the young warriors of her tribe said of her that the smile of the Great Spirit was not more beautiful. Is it any wonder, then, though death stared the young Seminole in the face, he should be happy in her presence? Was it any wonder that each should love the other?

Stern hatred of the Seminoles had stifled every kindly feeling in the hearts of the Cherokees, and they grimly awaited the time when their enemy must die. As the color slowly returned to the cheeks of her lover and strength to his limbs, the dark-eyed maiden eagerly urged him to make his escape. How could she see him die? But he would not agree to seek safety in flight unless she went with him; he could better endure death by torture than life without her.

She yielded to his pleading. At the midnight hour, silently they slipped into the dim forest, guided by the pale light of the silvery stars. Yet before they had gone far, impelled by soft regret at leaving her home forever, she asked her lover's permission to return for an instant that she might bear away some memento. So, retracing her footsteps, she broke a sprig from the glossy-leafed vine which climbed upon her father's cabin, and preserving it at her breast during her flight through the wilderness, planted it at the door of her home in the land of the Seminoles.

Here, its milk-white blossoms, with golden centers, often recalled her childhood days in the far-away mountains of Georgia; and from that time this beautiful flower has always been known, throughout the Southern States, as the Cherokee Rose.*

IV

THE LEGEND OF LOVER'S LEAP

In the early part of the nineteenth century the region watered by the Lower Chattahoochee was inhabited by two powerful tribes of Indians. They were bitter and relentless rivals, though both belonged to the Confederacy of Creeks, and besides being equally matched in numbers, they possessed alike proud names. There was not a tribe in the nation which dared to vaunt itself before a Cusseta or a Coweta.

It may have been a small matter from which the jealousy of these

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